ITVS Summer Summit: That Was Then, This Is Now

Posted on August 23, 2021

Striving to continue to be a leader in the public media space, we’re convening a new series of conversations for funded filmmakers—as ITVS President & CEO Sally Jo Fifer calls them, the lifeblood of our organization. On August 24 and 25, ITVS gathers virtually for the 2021 Independents Summit as an opportunity to talk about what is changing in the industry, and about what public media makers have gone through—and what ITVS has learned—this past tumultuous year. 

That includes gleanings from our year of virtual engagement, a review of new tools at our disposal, a look at how audiences are consuming media differently, and demonstrating to filmmakers how ITVS aims to give them the tools they'll need to roll with the times we're in.  All of this stems from a running theme we heard repeatedly echoed back this past year as we worked together: That was then, this is now.

Among the highlights from 2021's Independents Summit:

  • Sylvia Bugg, PBS's new Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, will talk about her vision for capturing the hearts and minds of new audiences while meeting PBS’s mission to empower the public through diverse storytellersSylvia Bugg, of PBS

    Sylvia Bugg, PBS
  • Industry experts will present on how the pandemic has accelerated shifting consumption patterns among TV viewers.

  • Leaders from Sundance Documentary Fund, Ford Foundation, Catalyst, and IDA will pass along their insights on how funders evaluate the concept of “value” when considering projects, as well as how filmmakers can best communicate their project's merit.

  • A look back at the evolution of the ITVS-produced, Independent Lens series Philly D.A. from feature doc idea to a hit 8-part primetime docuseries on PBS.

  • ITVS and filmmakers will share key findings and strategies about virtual offerings and engagement tools deployed in the past year. This includes a look back at our Belly of the Beast events, as ITVS led the way during the pandemic with engagement tools like DocScale and our OVEE screening platform.

  • We ask: What should artists consider when approaching their practice, cohort, business, community and value(s)? To help us speak to this, we'll chat with producer/director Peter Nicks (The Waiting Room, The Force, Homeroom) on his decade-long Oakland-based filmmaking practice working in public and commercial media.

  • And we will grapple with the urgent questions challenging the field: How has funding changed? What is the future of ethical storytelling and accountability in documentary filmmaking?

As Sally Jo Fifer wrote to attendees: 

"One final truth that remains a constant, then and now: we don’t have a secret answer key for the questions we face. During the Summit, we strive to understand where everyone is coming from, learn from each other, and figure out together how to best make your stories, individually and collectively, matter. The public is counting on us."

READ: Our extensive Independents Summit wrap-up for a look back at some of the key moments and takeaways. 


From our blog

  1. ITVS Launches NEH-supported $1.7 Million Fellowship for Independent Filmmakers and Advisors Working in the Humanities

    October 5, 2021

    How can supporting a diverse cohort of 20 filmmakers for one year bring new perspectives to documentary filmmaking and the humanities?

  2. ITVS and Independent Lens Filmmakers Honored with 2021 News & Documentary Emmy Awards

    September 29, 2021

    PBS’s award-winning documentary anthology series Independent Lens, in association with ITVS, today announced films released under its banner have been honored with two News and Documentary Emmy® Awards by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS).We are so pleased to salute the producers of these documentaries, which aired on

  3. Wrapping Up 2021 Independents Summit: What Does "Now" Look Like for Doc Makers

    September 2, 2021

    ITVS robust 2021 edition of its Independents Summit was jam-packed with panels of ITVS-funded filmmakers, industry partners, PBS reps, and thought leaders asking, What does "now" look like for documentary makers in a rapidly changing media landscape? Read on for our recap.